Africans develop a taste for "delicacy" chimpanzee meat.
In Central Africa, Kinshasa's fanciest restaurants now offer chimpanzee and gorilla steaks on the menu. Hungry soldiers, camped in the middle of the range of the bonobo, or pygmy chimp, are decimating that species. In other areas of equatorial Africa, hunters are following new logging roads deep into gorilla territory, and in Indonesia, fires, corruption and runaway logging are driving orangutans to the brink. Never have times been worse for the world's great apes, humankind's closest relatives. A few may slip close to extinction in a decade unless massive efforts to save them are mounted, say primatologists gathered in Lisle this month for a major international ape conference organized by Brookfield Zoo.
The groundbreaking meeting, aimed at coming up with proposals for just such a coordinated rescue effort, for the first time draws on the expertise of both field researchers and zoo experts from throughout the world. What is especially frustrating, the primatologists say, is that plunges in ape populations--due to wars, logging, fires and hunting--come as scientists have made huge progress in figuring out how to protect and save them.